The Early Pleistocene is recognized as a time of major global climatic and environmental change, including increasing aridity, significant spread of grasslands, and substantial faunal turnovers and dispersals. Importantly, this is the first time hominins are found in Eurasia. Reconstructing the types of environments that existed during this time is imperative for understanding mammalian, including hominin, dispersal patterns relative to climatic change. One proposed dispersal corridor across Europe is the Danube River. Here we characterize the 2.2 to ~1.1 million years ago (Ma) paleoenvironments surrounding one of the tributaries to the Danube, the Olteţ River, in southern Romania using a multiproxy approach, including taxonomic uniformitarianism, dental mesowear, dental microwear, enamel stable isotope (carbon and oxygen), and coprolite/palynology analyses, and compare our results to other penecontemporaneous Eurasian sites. Older sites from this region, Grăunceanu and La Pietriş, both dating to 2.2–1.9 Ma, are reconstructed as being primarily open, though with some nearby woodlands and significant water resources. Fântâna lui Mitilan, which is younger (1.8–1.1 Ma), is reconstructed as slightly more closed, though still relatively open in nature. These results are similar to reconstructions for other Early Pleistocene Eurasian sites, including ones with and without hominins, suggesting that hominins were likely not inhibited from dispersing across Eurasia due to environmental constraints at this time.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This research was generously supported by funding from the National Science Foundation ( BCS-1636686 ), The Leakey Foundation , “Emil Racoviţă” Institute of Speleology (ERIS), the Ministry of Research and Innovation through CNCS - UEFISCDI , grant PN-III-P4-ID-PCCF-2016-0016 , and the EEA-Norway Grant #0126 (KARSTHIVES 2, Romanian Ministry of Education and Research , CNCS - UEFISCDI , project number PN-III-P4-ID-PCE-2020-2282 , within PNCDI III (to V.D.), the Josiah Charles Trent Foundation and Duke University , the University of Arkansas , Ohio University , and the University of California Santa Barbara.
- Coprolite Palynology
- Stable Isotopes